Only 14% of Nigerians are connected to broadband Internet, a survey report released at #TechPlus2016 in Lagos by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has shown.
Dr Ernest Ndukwe, National Co-ordination of A4AI, who disclose this weekend at #TechPlus2016 says Nigeria is ranked the highest user of Internet in Africa but only 14% of its population have access to high speed Internet service popularly known as broadband.
Giving more insight into the broadband penetration levels in Nigeria, Ndukwe, who is also former Executive Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communication Commission, NCC, says that only 20% of Africa has broadband penetration, compared to Europe which has 80% broadband penetration.
According to Ndukwe, without universal high speed broadband, the ambitious smart city plans conceived by some states in Nigerian will be practically impossible.
“Smart cities must be digitally smart, physically smart, and economically smart. A digitally smart city must be a connected city, will have connected citizens, and connect with government. Without universal high speed broadband, the idea of a connected city is not truly achievable, Ndukwe told participants at the #TechPlus2016 forum.
He said right now, there are no pervasive broadband networks in Nigeria, and this problem slows down the attainability of smart city in the country.
“We have fiber backbone links in all the 36 states. But within the cities, metro fiber links are only available in a few cities. And this is very critical for true broadband connectivity,” he says.
For Ndukwe, some factors necessary for the adoption of adequate broadband, which includes affordability of subscription, access devices, digital literacy, and appreciation of the value of broadband, need to be addressed.
According to him, high cost of connection, poor digital skills, inadequate locally produced content and device cost are hurdles to affordable access through broadband, and they must be addressed for a successful and profitable roll-out of broadband in Nigeria.
Speaking on the way forward, the Ndukwe wants stakeholders to provide targeted concessions, tax incentives, grants or supports where needed to encourage faster developments.
“Policy makers need to do away with policies that undermine citizens’ effort to get online and adequate services,” he recommends. “There is need to turn policy to practice, Nigeria’s broadband plan is strong and has been widely lauded.”
He also recommended the timely release of spectrum resources for LTE roll-out, fostering interactive investment and well targeted schemes be made to enable the quick achievement of the smart city dreams for Nigeria.
“Do not go for lengthy spectrum allocation process, do not be drawn into making big money for the treasury thereby dis empowering the citizens by not making broadband available,” the former NCC chief advises.